One of the first signs of pregnancy is breast changes. The usual pre-menstrual tenderness starts and then increases. It’s worse with first pregnancies, it’s like they are laying the foundations for the future! They become fuller, more tender and sometimes down right painful. I’ve heard plenty of women talk about how even someone brushing past their breasts was horrendous. I myself remember them being so tender, it was painful lying down in bed.
Did you know the other changes your boobs go through? Before breastfeeding even begins whether you want to or not, your boobs will grow and feel heavy and full. This growth may be uneven, leaving you with one breast larger than the other- in some cases drastically so. One of my clients once came to me and she had been stuffing one side of her bra with tissues it was so bad. It doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to breastfeed evenly, it’s just one of those things. Women always have one slightly larger breast than the other, but this can be exaggerated in pregnancy. Here are some of the other changes you may experience:
Your nipples darken to a much browner hue. The areola (coloured area around the nipple) darkens and spreads to a larger proportion of your breast. This is so the baby can find the nipple easier when they are born. Your nipples will probably feel a lot more sensitive.
The veins supplying blood to the breast tissue swell with more blood and may be visible under the skin. Your breasts will look marble like for some. Those little bumps on the areola (known as Montgomery glands) become more prominent. The Montgomery glands are said to provide lubrication and landmarks for your baby during feeding.
You may notice colostrum leaking in the 3rd trimester, or sooner if you’ve breastfed before. Some women get no leaking, but can squeeze colostrum out if they try, whereas others may need to wear breastpads. It’s a good idea if you do leak, to collect some colostrum in a syringe or small cup, to put in the freezer to give to baby. This is true if you breastfeed or not, it’s so good for them. All variations are normal and doesn’t reflect on how your supply will be.
You may notice more lumps in your breasts. Anything you’re not sure of get checked out of course, but the growing tissue can feel more lumpy than you’re used to.
Even if you never breastfeed, you will still get your milk come through a few days after birth, and it’s this growing and shrinking during pregnancy and birth which can lead to stretch marks, saggy skin, saggy boobs and permanent changes in nipple colour and shape. The dark colour will fade over time. Most people enjoy their new fuller sized breasts, and to use them for their intended use.